Brussels (Brussels Morning) Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters clashed with police in Paris on Saturday, as security forces used teargas and water cannons to disperse the unsanctioned protest organised in support of Palestinian population in Israel, France24 reported.
The French authorities banned the protest on Friday, with Interior Minister Gérard Darmanin citing fears that such a protest in the heavily immigrant northern Paris neighbourhood of Barbes, could lead to a repeat of the 2014 clashes that occurred between Palestinian supporters and the French police, the last time there was a major Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The ban was upheld by a Paris court, in view of what happened during the 2014 protests, when synagogues and other Jewish institutions were targeted, and not just Israeli symbols. “We all remember the extremely troubling protest where terrible phrases like ‘death to Jews’ were yelled,” said Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Friday, welcoming the decision to ban the rally.
Defying the protest ban, between 2,500 and 3,500 protesters gathered in Barbes, confronting an assembled force of some 4,200 police officers, according to the Interior Ministry. The rally organisers, the Association of Palestinians in Ile-de-France, “refusing to silence” their solidarity, said they would not be deterred from demonstrating.
The authorities resorted to using teargas and water cannons to break up the protest. Ssome 44 people were reported arrested and one police officer was injured according to police sources.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s party Republic on the Move (LReM) supported the ban, as did the majority of the right-wing opposition. However, several left-wing politicians condemned the decision to ban the protest, calling it an unacceptable attack on freedom of expression. Several far-left and anti-capitalist groups also turned out for the protest, expressing their support for Palestine and their condemnation of Israel’s strikes on Gaza.